Jan 30, 2013

Toy and Children's Room Organization

An organized home is a happy home... this is one of the many truths I live by. I plan on eventually taking you through every room in my home and show you my organization solutions, but for today, I thought it would be fun to start with the kiddo's room. So I guess we can say, an organized kid's room is a happy room. And it really is! When everything has a place to "call home", it makes straightening up easier and quicker; making everyone happier.

There are so many ways to organize a kid's room and store toys and belongings...the possibilities are quite endless. (ever been on Pinterest?) But today, I would like to show you how I organize Lily's room, which also doubles as her playroom.

But first I'd like for you to meet Lily, our fun, loving, playful, "dances to her own beat" 2 year old who loves to add a "toddler's touch" to our home:

No, she's not cross eyed..she just loves to make funny faces.

And now I'd like for you to witness some of the "toddler touches" she adds, not only to her room but to our home:

Ignore the hubby's feet. Here the little darling has re-purposed her toy bin into a mini office. I guess she gets re-purposing things from me!

She insists on storing her play vacuum along with mine! And you see that white bag next to the vacuum cleaners? That's my wedding dress in there....thoughtful and romantic, I know.

Here she is inside a cardboard box turned playhouse reading with some of her pals inside. I guess she decided to have a train wreck outside her front door for a lovely view.

Toys scattered all over the floor are a must in toddler decor, you know.

This has nothing to do with toys but I think it's funny. She helped me fold laundry and said she would put away the  place mat (on the left) and the kitchen towel (on the right). Well, I normally store those in a drawer but I guess she thought it best to display one on each side of my decorative kitchen towel (center).

Now we can move on to her bedroom and see what it looks like when it's not at it's best:

Toys on the floor, laundry basket full of clothes just waiting to be put away, a garbage bag she was putting her toys into (I'm not sure why...I didn't question the child) are all the pieces that make her room "come together" in her eyes.

Her piggy bank and slinky have wandered off and are laying on top of her bed...maybe they needed a nap.

And I guess it was makeover day for Clifford...As you can see from his facial expression, he wasn't very ecstatic about it. I think he wishes he was taking a nap.

So you can see from the pictures above that even though I am all for order and organization, I still let our home be a place for Lily to be able to relax, play and have a good ol' time. After all, I know that everything will be put back where it belongs once playtime ends.

Now to the organization part, Yay!
This is what her room looks like before the" toddler interior designer" has had the chance to revamp her place:

The view from the door as you come inside. We keep it pretty simple around here; there are 3 main playing stations: creativity station (Arts & Crafts), play kitchen station, and the reading station/main toy area station (corner bookshelf) where most of her toys and all of her books are neatly stored. Everything has a place to "call home."

-Creativity Station: Crayola Creativity Table and stools from Walmart (purchased online and on sale for around $35!). 
-Crayons and Colored pencils stand neatly in small containers that came with the table set. I thought it was pretty cool that the stools can be both tucked under the table when not in use (the more space the merrier, right?)
-Canvas bin (from 99 cent store) where all her coloring books, doodle pads, stickers and extra crayons are stored.

-Play Kitchen Station: Little Tykes play kitchen (purchased from Amazon for around $35).

-We store all her kitchen accessories in the oven and that pink bin next to it for easy access and quick cleanups.

-Reading area/ Main toy Station: This is where most of her playtime happens and where the majority of her toys are stored.
-I was originally going to buy a 9 cubby storage system from Target that retails around $60 but I really wanted to use the wicker baskets that she's had since she was a newborn. So I ended up purchasing this $15 bookshelf from Walmart instead (I plan on painting it and adding some legs to it to spiff it up a bit). I actually like the combination of the wicker baskets and pink canvas bins together! 
-Pink bins were purchased at Target for $2.50 for both of them!
-2 squared wicker baskets came with her bassinet.
-3 rectangular wicker baskets were purchased from HomeGoods for $25, liners included!
- Every bin and basket has designated toys that belong in it (see picture below). My daughter has learned the system so cleaning up is never overwhelming.
-We use the extra space between the bookshelf and the wall to store 2 larger books, a couple etch-a-sketch's and a wooden puzzle (We don't let any space go to waste around here).

-Here you can see what is stored in each basket and bin:
-In the basket on the top of the bookshelf sits her mega blocks.
-Top shelf from left to right: Puzzles in pink bin, purses in another pink bin and toddler Lego's and Mr. & Mrs. Potato heads with accessories.
-Middle shelf, from left to right: wooden blocks in basket 1, wooden train tracks with trains in basket 2, and random cars/hot wheels and her Little People toys in basket 3.
-And the bottom shelf is all books! (I actually need to find additional storage for more books...I'm thinking of making a book sling and hanging it against one of her walls so it doesn't have to take up any space).

-Left side of her closet, from top to bottom:
-The top shelf holds extra wipes, lotions, hair detanglers, clothes she's outgrown, and a couple toys she got for her birthday that are waiting for her to be a little older to be able play with.
-Then there's her clothes
-Under her clothes is a white closet storage system we found at Lowe's on sale for $18! It was originally around $80 and it was the only one left!
-Inside the white storage system there is a drawer on top (see next picture for details on that)
-Under the drawer we keep her shoes (I know, we need to go shoe shopping!) and a bin, again from the dollar store, with diapers in it (even though she is potty trained she still wears them when sleeping.)
-And the last shelf holds more diapers, extra sheets, blankets and pillow cases.

-Here is the top drawer that proudly holds her socks, tights on the left side. 
-Three plastic bins ($1 at most drugstores) with headbands, hair ties and random stuff like sunglasses, q-tips, comb and a chapstick.
-And all of her hats are stored on the right side.

-A hook holds belts and some necklaces and bracelets

-Next to the hook, behind her clothes, is a bow hanger that I completely forgot to take a picture of.

-The right side of her closet holds a bin with arts & crafts paint, scissors and glue sticks on the top shelf
-And her tutus and princess dresses on the rack
-I use her crib siding to hang her scarves
-And on the bottom she has a drum set and a swing/high chair for her "babies"

-Her bed comfortably holds 6 of her favorite toy friends she likes to read to and fall asleep with.

-We always keep her backpack and "going out" toy bag on her door, so they are ready to go when we are.

-And her bigger toys are stored in our entryway closet (as you can see, I was able to put her vacuum away, but nor for too long, it's back next to mine!)

And that my friends is how we get our organizing on around here (Well, in Lily's room anyway).

Let me know what you think, or if you have any questions and ideas. Remember, I love anything organization, so bring it on!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! You guys are all so awesome!

Tip of the Day: How to have children that participate in the cleaning up/organizing process:

The easiest way to raise children to clean up after themselves and take pride in their belongings looking their best is to teach them while they are still young. As a Christian parent, I take the scripture that says to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart (Proverbs 22:6) to heart. I apply this to all areas of my daughter's life. 

So in this aspect, I like to say, "If I train up my child now in taking ownership of her things and treating them accordingly, then in the future I won't have a teenager with a messy room that refuses to help out around the house." I can do all the picking up myself, but I won't because that will rob Lily from knowing what it's like to be responsible.

So my tip is to include your kids in the cleaning up process, no matter what their age may be. Just give them a responsibility that is age appropriate. Kids love responsibilities, some may not know it, but they do! Just watch their smiling faces when they are all done cleaning up...they are proud of their work! And they should be; It's a great feeling!
This post is linked in the following link parties:

Jan 28, 2013

My Concealer Routine and Recommendations

Whether you have subtle dark eye circles, puffy bags under the eyes or severely tired looking eyes, I think every woman can really benefit from a little concealer. 

I like to describe concealer as my magic eraser. It has a way of erasing unattractive shadows underneath the eyes, lifting the eye area and overall, lending a more wide awake look (and who doesn't want to look more wide awake?). I would definitely say it is one of my "go to" products. 

Concealer isn't just for the under eye area either; this little gem can also be used to counteract darkness, shadows, discoloration, redness and other skin imperfections such as pimples and scarring that occur to other areas of the face (you will see where else I like to apply concealer in one of the pictures below). It can also be used to highlight the forehead, bridge of the nose, chin and above cheekbone...but highlighting will be chatter for another post.

When choosing a concealer shade, the rule of thumb is to pick a concealer one shade lighter than your skin tone. A peachy, salmon shade is also ideal for extreme dark eye circles since it counteracts bluish tones very well.

See for yourselves how I go from discolored, tired looking eyes to "I got a full night's rest" looking eyes (even though that is not the case most of the time). 

In the pictures below I had my foundation already applied. I like to apply my foundation before my concealer, that way nothing I conceal gets rubbed off in the foundation application process. 

This is just my basic concealing process; I may do a post on color correcting in the future.

Concealer, along with some techniques, are how I go from this:

to this:


And this is how I do it:
These are all the areas of my face where concealer (Maybelline Fit Me Concealer) is applied. A little on the forehead for highlighting purposes, under my eyes, on my lids, the inner corner of my eyes where it meets the nose, down the center of my nose for highlighting purposes, the sides of my nose where there is redness, along my laugh lines and the corners of my mouth where it's a little dark.

*note: even though I have blemishes and scarring to cover up I always do that with my foundation instead of concealer because I want them to blend with my skin tone. My concealer is always 1-2 shades lighter than my skin tone and it would make the blemishes stand out even more.

I then begin blending under my eye area by dabbing in the product with my beauty blending sponge from Ulta. I always look up so the concealer gets in all the nooks and crannies. I blend in both directions (left & right), eventually reaching the inner corner of the eye, where it meets the nose.

Then I blend the product on my lids by gently dabbing the sponge over it. I carry the concealer all the way to my brow bone. This preps my eye area for primer and eyeshadow.

Here I am blending the concealer down the bridge of my nose to help bring my nose bridge outward (highlighting and contouring will be addressed in a different post)

Now I'm blending the product on my laugh lines to help bring that area out as well since there is a natural shadow there.

And again blending around the corners of my mouth for the same reason

Lastly, with whatever product residue that's left on the sponge, I dab on the cheek area right under my eye area for highlighting purposes.
So there it is, my basic concealing routine! I of course set everything with a little powder (Maybelline Dream Matte) so it stays in place and doesn't crease.

I always change up this routine along with the products and tools. You can use your fingers, concealer brush, foundation brush, some people even use eyeshadow blending brushes! Experiment and see what works for you; it's the only way to find out!

Here are some of my concealer recommendations that I've used and loved (in no particular order):

  • Bare Escentuals Concealer in Bisque
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind 
  • NYX Concealer In a Jar
  • Revlon Age Defying Concealer
  • Maybelline Fit Me Concealer (the one I used for this post)
Are there any product recommendations you could add? Maybe a tip? I would really like to hear about it!

Facts of my Day (Sunday):
  • It is now 10:30 p.m and I've had my makeup on since 7:30 a.m!!! Yeah...my faucet and cleanser are calling me right about now!
  • Sunday's are the days I have my makeup on the longest- I attend both the morning and evening services at my church-fun fun!
  • I wore a burgandy-ish/reddish lipstick today and my daughter asked what happened to my lips...thanks a lot kid!!
  • I also got out of my comfort zone with my eyes! I applied no eyeshadow or eyeliner, only mascara! I've always felt weird without eyeliner but I actually liked the all natural eyes along with the bold lips.

Jan 25, 2013

DIY: Easy Wall Art Using Wallpaper

One of the first things I noticed while house hunting and looking through the house that my family and I now have the pleasure of calling home, was the more than plenty amount of wall space. The house also has high ceilings, making the walls appear even bigger. It was very overwhelming (still sometimes is). To a wall art arranging expert my walls are heaven! To me...well let's just say I'm constantly moving things from wall to wall and there are plenty of holes on my walls that need to be addressed. I swear I get looks from my wall pieces every time my arms move toward them in attempt to rearrange them. We've lived here almost 4 years and my walls are not even 50% filled; and it's not like I'm trying to achieve a cluttered wall look, where every inch of space is filled.

So as I was recently going through my craft stash (not very big....yet) I found some wallpaper samples I had ordered some time back (yeah, not sure what I was thinking... as soon as I saw the small pieces of wallpaper I freaked out just thinking of myself attempting to paste the actual larger pieces of wallpaper to my walls with a toddler running around). I didn't throw them away because the prints were so very pretty and I figured I could always use them for something else. 

Well, I finally figured what that "something else" would be; what I need the most: wall art! They are the perfect size to fit inside an 11 X 14 frame; I didn't have to cut them at all!

This is the easiest way to create your own wall art! And you don't have to restrict yourself to only using wallpaper, you can use fabric as shown here on housefullofpretty.com.

If you want to do this project, here is what you'll need:
- Any flat material with a pretty pattern (wallpaper, fabric, scrapbook paper, gift wrapping paper...) cut to your frame size (Joanne's and other fabric places sell fabric swatches for under $2)
- Frame/s to place them in (You can use some you may already have laying around, shop for some at antique stores, the dollar store, or Walmart and Target have some inexpensive ones)
- Tape to hold the paper to the frame mat- you don't want the print to slide around once hung on the wall
- And the obvious: nails, a hammer, a person to hold the frame/s up for you so you can see them from a distance and decide how high/low you want them (thank you hubby)

The steps are pretty easy and obvious: 
- Cut the wallpaper or material of you choice if needed
- Place inside the frame and tape to secure it in place
- Put frame back together 
-Slap (hang) it on the wall

Here are some photos of this project:

Here are the 4 wallpaper samples in all their glory (pretty huh?)

I just placed each print inside a frame, making sure that the pattern was even. I then taped the paper to the frame mat so it remains in place. Then I secured the back of the frame.

I hung two on the wall you see as you enter the hallway, next to the T.V- It instantly brightened up that area and it makes me happy to see them everyday.

The other 2 formerly unused wallpaper samples now  love to hang next to our sliding door and above one of my very own reupholstered chairs (You can read about that experience here).

Easy, right? I told you it would be!

Now, my walls have hope!

If you have any cool DIY wall art ideas please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. I love to hear of new things!

This project is linked to the following link parties:

Jan 23, 2013

Hello Eyebrows! Achieving Your Perfect Brows.

I am almost positive that every woman has had their share of traumatic eyebrow experiences that turned into eyebrow horror stories, that hopefully by now, have turned into something they just remember and laugh about. I know I most certainly do. I was made fun of most of my high school years because I totally went to town with my tweezers one night and ended up with "sperm cell" shaped eyebrows. And no, I didn't name them that, my guy friends did. I learned to laugh at myself in that moment. And I can still laugh at it now...to think that I actually thought that looked good! My goodness..I'm laughing at myself right now!

Eyebrows, in my opinion, are the most important feature of the face, particularly on the "dolled- up" face. Used right, they frame the face and make features stand out. Ignore them and the face looks washed out, like something is missing and...well,  just sort of blah. But they're also (again, in my opinion) the hardest to get just right because there are a few things to consider, such as shape, color, fullness, and filling-in technique.

See for yourselves what a difference eyebrows can make. Here are some pictures of me with and without my eyebrows done so you can see what an amazing difference a well shaped and filled in eyebrow makes:

All  makeup is applied, except for the eyebrows.  I know I don't have completely sparse eyebrows, but this goes to show that even thick beauties benefit from a little fill in procedure, as shown in the picture below:

Now that I slapped some brow powder on you can instantly see the difference!  Not only are they more defined and fuller looking but they gave me a mini eye lift (Compared to picture above and below). Also, their color deepened.

Again, all makeup is done except for the brows. Without brow powder they tend to look a little ashy in color (especially in pictures). Even though they're fairly thick on their own, there just isn't a wow factor. They're just sitting there doing nothing for my face. I don't like idleness so I like putting them to work!

You can see that by simply filling in the eyebrows, the area beneath the brows stands out even more.  They now have the purpose of framing my face, thus allowing the work I put into all my other features to stand out.

Now I would like to share with you my personal tips on achieving YOUR perfect brow (I say YOUR perfect brow because I think it's important to remember that every woman has a unique brow shape and shouldn't traumatize their brows trying to get them to mimic someone else's).
  • Tip #1: Stay true to your shape (keep this in mind when tweezing, waxing and filling in)
    • We all have a unique brow shape and you will always have a messy end result when attempting to re-shape your brows to that of someone else's. For example, if you have a natural high arch, don't attempt to smooth it out by removing the hair from the arch (I made this mistake a couple times and ended up with eyebrows the shape of sperm cells-yeah, not very fun). On the other hand if you have naturally smooth rounded shaped brows, don't try to draw on an arch to make them more angled looking (all you will achieve is an angry looking face).
    • There are plenty of techniques out there on how to tweeze your brows (the diagram that illustrates where the beginning, arch and end of the brow should be by aligning them to certain areas of the nose, using stencils, coloring the shape you want with a white pencil and then tweezing outside the white area, and on and on..). I personally don't use any of these because in my experience I feel it's easier to take away from your natural brow shape using these techniques. I just simply do the following:
      • brush my brows with a brow brush. I then just tweeze all the stray hairs around my natural shape brow. Your natural shaped brow will tend to be the area that is the fullest and darkest-I go nowhere near that area.
      • I tweeze my eyebrows every time I do my makeup- this helps control over tweezing since I only have to pluck a few stray hairs here and there at a time. I never let them get overgrown where I have to walk on eggshells trying not to pluck away their natural shape. 
    • Try not to get tweeze happy like I did in high school and over pluck them brows. But if you do, don't freak out! Filling them in automatically makes them appear fuller and thicker.
  • Tip #2 Never try to get your eyebrows to look exactly the same, one to the other.
    • I once read somewhere (I can't remember exactly where) that your eyebrows should look like sisters not identical twins. That completely set me free because my two eyebrows are so different from each other and I was always trying to make them look identical. Now I'm okay with the fact that my left eyebrow is fuller and my right has a more dominant arch.
  • Tip #3 Fuller eyebrows will always make you look fresher and younger
    • There is a difference between a set of full eyebrows and a bushy mess.
      • Bushy eyebrows just have hairs that are longer than normal.
      •  If you find yourself struggling with very bushy brows simply comb your eyebrow hairs upward with an eyebrow comb and trim the hairs that extend way out there with nail scissors. Be very careful and stop to inspect once in a while to make sure you don't over trim (you don't want to trade your bushy babies for a set of sparse ones).
    • If you have very thin or sparse brows but want them fuller, don't be afraid of letting them grow in (I did this more than a few years back). This process takes a while but it's totally worth it.
      • When allowing them to grow in try to only pluck the hairs you know you won't need (the hairs that grow outside the area of your natural brow shape)
      • They will look ungroomed for a while (normally 1-3 months). To keep them looking their best during this awkard process, just use extra concealer under your brow bone to try to hide those random hairs and still continue to fill in your brows. This will automatically draw peopl'e attention to the darker portion of the brow, giving the illusion that they are still groomed.
  • Tip # 4 Use the right tools
    • Tweezers, brow brush, your choice of filler: pencil or powder (I prefer powder because it lends a softer more natural effect), angled eyeliner brush (if using a powder) and brow gel/clear mascara....these are your new best friends, or bff's, whatever term you prefer to use.
Here are my "make my eyebrows gorgeous" tools:

Clockwise from the top: E.L.F Lash & Brow Clear Mascara, E.L.F  Eyebrow brush, Coastal Scents Angled Eyeliner Brush (this baby has been a part of my eyebrow's life for 6 years-and growing strong),  Jordana Cosmetics Brow/Eyeshadow Powder in Brunette, and Tweezerman Stainless Tweezerette.

I sometimes use a lighter taupe eyeshadow like the one I am pointing to here.
  • Tip #4 Fill, fill, fill them babies in!
    • This is where the magic happens. You can have perfectly shaped and groomed brows but they will still be overlooked by not filling them in.
    • Filling in your eyebrows will frame your face, make you look more awake, younger, and will overall complete your look. There is a huge difference when filling in the brows.
    • You can fill them in using a brow pencil, brow powder or eyeshadow in the right shade:
      • If you are blonde, you want to use a shade one to two shades darker than your hair. For brunettes, a shade or two lighter than your hair, and for our lovely redheads (depending on the deepness of the red) a taupe brown, honey, or reddish brown will do.
    • I prefer using a brow powder or eyeshadow because they tend to be more forgiving than a pencil. If you do use a pencil, just be sure to use gentle pressure, gradually building up the color intensity. It's easier to add a little at a time than to try to remove an over excess of color.
    • Whatever product you decide to use, always use short soft strokes when filling in.
    • After filling in always run an eyebrow brush over them to remove excess product and make them look more softer.
  • Tip #5 Set your lovely ladies with brow gel or clear mascara.
    • You want to keep your perfect brow locked in place. You put all that time and effort into achieving your perfect brow and the last thing you want is for those babies to move around, lose concentration of color and look messy. 
    • I have used the more expensive brow gels but I will always swear on my E.L.F clear lash and brow mascara. And what's even better? It's $1 price tag! (You can find this at your local Target) 
  • Tip #6 Highlight the area just beneath your brows (brow bone). 
    • This makes that area appear even higher and will diminish the look of a saggy lid. It also makes the brow more prominent.
    • You can use a champagne or any light colored eyeshadow.
    • Doesn't always have to be shimmery or frosty, a matte shadow will do too.
And here is how I fill in to get my perfect brow:

I always start with the "tail" of the brow. I simply dab my brush into the powder and fill in with short soft strokes-my eyebrows tend to stop short so I extend the stroke past the hair just a tad bit.

I then dab my brush into the powder again and move on to the center section, again, using soft short strokes. I make sure to softly fill in the area just above the fullest part of my brow where the hairs are sparse. This gives the illusion of a fuller brow.

The last part that gets filled in is the beginning of the brow. I do not dab my brush back into the powder because I like the most concentration of color to be towards the end of the brow. I simply do my soft short strokes again with whatever residue is left on the brush. I again make sure to get the sparse hairs above darkest part o my brow.

Then I run my eyebrow brush gently accross them to remove excess powder, remove any harsh lines and make them more natural and softer looking.

In my final step, I simply run my clear gel across all the hairs, making sure that they are neat looking and in place (There's nothing worse than some random hair sticking straight up-haha).

I'm sure you can tell which eyebrow is filled in here: my left one.  A very dramatic difference for such a quick process.
Note: I did not include the highlighting step 
I know it seems like a lot of work, but really, once you get the hang of it, you will be able to do this with your eyes closed. Okay, maybe not with your eyes closed but you get the picture. 

I want to end by saying that these are the tips and techniques that I've gathered from various sources throughout my quest to perfecting my brows and they are what work for me. I realize these are not the only tips out there, so if you would like to add a tip or technique, or a comment, please feel free to do so! I am always open to being enlightened!

Happy brow shaping, plucking, filling and setting! I can almost hear our eyebrows shouting, "We are eyebrows, hear us roar!"